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Abhi.jpgBy Abhilasha Chadha, MBA ’10

After the introduction to the world of blogging through Prof. Sue Brown this is my first blog reaching a larger audience. It’s really been a wonderful journey since joining Eller and it’s a privilege to share my thoughts with you all.

The prospect of an internship was something that worried me after deciding to concentrate on marketing. My lack of marketing experience and being an IT consultant were my main worries, but without giving up, I applied for every opportunity that came my way. There were many disappointments along the way and the economic condition in the U.S. amplified my anxiety. In the mean time I decided to look for other avenues to provide me with the necessary experience. My affiliation with Prof. Umashankar gave me a break and an understanding of marketing, along with some rich experience. Through some contacts I applied to a couple of companies in India, of which two were positive and both offered me an internship opportunity. After discussions with my professors, I finalized my internship at Kellogg’s, a company known to millions of people. I was now apprehensive as to what the project would be and whether I would be able to meet the expectations.

I arrived in India and rushed home to see my parents. After a year away from them it was indeed special to be back. I joined the Delhi office of Kellogg’s and my guide Pooja Sahgal (Kids Portfolio Manager) along with Rupali Rattan (Brand Manager) gave me an overview into the project I would be handling. The project dealt with understanding the mother’s attitude towards breakfast in Delhi and to determine how the traditional breakfast items could be replaced by Kellogg’s Chocos. Unlike that in the U.S., the breakfast attitude in India varies extensively from city to city. My project focus was on Kellogg’s Chocos, which is positioned as the “chocolaty breakfast for kids.”

How about some trivia? Kellogg’s has been in India for 15 years and has been penetrating the Indian breakfast market. Interestingly, Kellogg’s India had a growth rate of 52% last year and has been the fastest growing family in the Kellogg’s world. Kellogg’s core brands in India are Chocos, Special K, Kpack and Cornflakes.

Back to my project….In order to gain insights and familiarize myself with the current perception, attitude and habits of people in Delhi, I started with the exploratory research that would give direction for later investigations. Conducting in-depth interviews with 8 mothers and 8 children of different socioeconomic class, the approach reminded me of the one I completed under Prof. Jesper Neilson for Prof. Umashankar. The experience from the marketing research project laid the foundation for the one I was about to undertake.

As a value-add, I also tried to look at the awareness created by mediums like television and the internet among the parents and children. The interviews were extensive and I was able to gather a lot of information. Next came a comprehensive survey to quantify the information and identify the key drivers and factors to help come up with viable recommendations. I went crazy with the number of variables that I had to use in my coding sheet. Over 5 days, I conducted 55 oral and paper based surveys… and I really missed having the ease of an online survey! The week after the surveys was spent in deciphering trends and patterns between the two kinds of respondents chosen, users and non-users.

All the skills taught at Eller came to good use as I went about creating graphs and tables for my presentation. After an initial review by my guides, I flew down to Mumbai where the head office of Kellogg’s is located. When I walked into the office I was ecstatic, I was going to be presenting for the top management at Kellogg’s. The first day went in putting the final touches to my presentation and last minute runs. On the day of the presentation I was calm… I guess all the presentations I gave at Eller helped me be at ease. The audience for the presentation included five heads from different departments including the CEO (Kellogg’s India), Mr. Annupam Dutta and my project guides. My findings and recommendations caught their attention and even identified some problem areas. The overall session was interactive and I enjoyed the opportunity to present to such a rich audience. I was delighted by the feedback I have received and it was indeed a pleasure to get acquainted and work with the Kellogg’s team.

I’m now back in Delhi and enjoying my last days here before the new semester starts at Eller. I can’t wait to get back to Tucson and catch up with my friends. I have indeed grown over the last year and I know I have to thank all my professors at Eller for it. For all my friends abroad who wanted to look at the cereal boxes available in India, please check out the Kellogg’s Chocos website.